One year after same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia, we celebrate the unique stories of three couples who joyously tied the knot.
Shelley Haughey, 34, and Kate Williams, 32
Shelley (right): We’d been together for four years when I proposed to Kate on Christmas Day in 2016, during a holiday in New York. I’d made Kate a picture storybook called This Is Why I Love You. On the last page it said, “Will you marry me?” When she turned to that page, I opened the ring box and she said yes. We set our wedding date for December 15, 2017. When the yes vote came through we applied for a shortening, so we would be exempt from the usual 30-day waiting period. Our application was approved, but we kept it a secret from our guests and had a surprise legal ceremony at our reception party. There was so much love in the room.
Kate: We had our wedding at Polperro Winery on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula – a beautiful intimate ceremony with our immediate family. My favourite moment was walking out with my dad. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it was something I’d dreamt about since I was a little girl. I really made sure I was present in that moment because unfortunately Shell lost her dad so she didn’t get that opportunity. Now we’re married, it feels like we’re stuck, which is a good thing. We face challenges together. Marriage has made us stronger as a couple and individuals. That’s about to be tested because we’re expecting a baby in March!
Teegan, 29, and Mahatia Minniecon, 30
Teegan (left): When I first met Mahatia seven years ago in Melbourne, it was love at first sight. As soon as I saw her, I thought, “I am totally going to marry that girl.” I always wanted to wait until same-sex marriage was legal, but Ti said we could be waiting our entire lives, so we had a commitment ceremony in December 2016 with all of our family. When same-sex marriage was legalised last year, we became one of the first couples to get married on the stroke of midnight. We all sung along to, “I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)”, but we changed the lyrics to, “We fought the law and we won.” Everyone was crying and cheering. The enormity of that moment was really incredible.
Mahatia: I always had that fairytale dream of getting married. We were at home when the yes vote was announced on TV and we burst into tears sitting next to each other on the couch. More than anything, I felt accepted. I couldn’t believe we had the same right as everyone else and that we didn’t have to fight any longer. We had our legal wedding ceremony at a bar in the same laneway where we had our first date. Once the confetti dropped, it was pretty emotional. The next day, I was on Instagram and every second photo was of our wedding. It felt much bigger than us. The best part of being married is not having to advocate for ourselves every day. We’re just like everyone else now.
Craig Burns, 29, and Luke Sullivan, 24
Luke (right): We met online almost four years ago. On our first date, I thought he was this tall, handsome guy. The conversations we had that night were unlike any I’d had before. Craig proposed last year, but we weren’t in any huge rush to get married – our world wasn’t controlled by a piece of paper. But after the yes vote happened, we were approached by an event planner to have the first same-sex wedding in Australia at 12.01am on January 9. We started the ceremony just before midnight and after our celebrant said everything she could legally say, we stood there in silence for 15 minutes waiting for the clock to tick over. I think that was really important because it made us realise how long we had to wait for this moment. I’ll never forget staring into Craig’s eyes finally knowing he would be mine forever. We saved the top tier of the wedding cake for our first wedding anniversary, so we’ll probably spend the day watching Game of Thrones on the couch and eating cake. We’re already an old married couple in bed by 9.30pm.
Craig: I love Luke’s vulnerability and his courage. Those two qualities make him shine more than anyone else in the world. I proposed to him at our favourite spot in Byron Bay – a secluded beach almost no-one knows about. We invited 55 of our favourite people to the wedding, which was held at Summergrove Estate in the Northern NSW hinterland. There’s a photo of my mum walking me down the aisle and she looks so proud and happy. Being married means I get to call Luke my husband, rather than boyfriend or partner. That word means so much.
An extended version of this article appeared in the December issue of Marie Claire Australia. On sale now.